I am a great fan of Pink Floyd up until Wish You Were Here and my favourite Roger Waters couplet has always been: The memories of a man in his old age are the deeds of a man in his prime.** So much so in fact that I have the phrase tattooed on my right forearm.
In this spirit, I recently relived the days of my youth by looking back to the time when I was just 21 and became Sports Editor of the Harlow Gazette, as it was then. I was the Connor Southwell of my day although I’d doubt Connor has ever learned the rigours of casting off, hand-drawn layouts and what an Em ruler was for. No disrespect CS mate, how the times have changed!
The key word here is Harlow. I’ve always been lucky throughout my career as big things have come to me. Never a need to seek them out, they just turn up in their own way when they want to. So I looked back at Harlow Town’s epic FA Cup run of 1979-80 and in doing so came across an old ally who was a director of Harlow Town at the time, one Alan Howick.
I would never go to Alan for gossip because we didn’t work like that then. But if I ever needed behind-the-scenes guidance on a not for publication basis, Alan was the man. A flourishing local estate agent in Old Harlow, I’d occasionally drop into his office for a chat which would sometimes veer across the road to the Marquis of Granby.
But I haven’t physically seen Alan in something like 40 years and never knew he was a Brighton supporter until very recently – and equally, he didn’t know I was a Canary. With that established, it’s appropriate to hand over to the man himself.
Spill the beans about your time with Harlow Town, Alan.
I tend to wash away any memories about my time with HTFC as it sadly ended up as a very emotional, stressful and expensive exercise, to say the least.
Having said that, there were many high points during my two stints at the club. The most memorable being of course the FA Cup run in 1979/80 in which we beat Southend United and Leicester City, both after replays.
Six weeks of bedlam from the first game in round one proper to our exit away to Watford. [4-3 at Vicarage Road – Martin]
My second term as Chairman had its moments. A first-round proper FA cup game at Peterborough was fun, albeit we made nothing in terms of income out of it but was a treat for the team and management considering our circumstances at the time.
The rest is thankfully now just a blur! Although, 20 years on people still ask me how are ‘the Town’ getting on?’
We first met about 40 years ago and it took me until 2021 to discover you are a Brighton supporter. As you’re a gentleman of Sussex was it a case of *I support my local team* or something different that got you into the blue and white?
I was born and grew up in Brighton (before moving to Harlow in 1964) and when old enough I started to go and watch the Albion with my father in 1958, the season they were promoted to Div 2 after winning the old Div 3 southern section after many years of near misses. Brighton is my home town and I have stuck with them through thick and thin ever since. And the same with Sussex County Cricket Club.
My local pub in Sawbridgeworth is full of Gooners, Hammers and Spurs fans and I have managed to convert them to adopt The Albion as their second team and it’s great fun when say we play, say, Arsenal and the Hammers and Spurs fans are backing us! Makes for a rowdy session for sure.
My second team I suppose is Spurs as my Great Uncle Arthur Grimsdell skippered them (and England) in the 1920s. [Don’t worry on that score Alan as Spurs are my second team too and I’m not alone on this site, am I Alex?]
Living and working in Essex for so long now do you get to see the boys in blue & white very often?
I go down to Brighton three or four times in the season. It’s an easy rail journey for a Saturday 3pm KO.
I meet up with an old school chum, we enjoy lunch in Lewes, then it’s football and home (or back to the pub) by around 7 providing railway suppliers are not rerouting the train as they have done in the past.
Sometimes I also manage to blag an invite to WHU or Spurs when the Albion visit.
I remember going to the Withdean [Alan ticked me off for misspelling it – Martin] many years ago and you have come a long way from there. How did that come about?
I did many games there with a school friend Bob Virgo whose son (Adam) was a popular player during the ‘Withdean years’. Comparing going to Gillingham (which I did once or twice) it was heaven to be back in town.
You must be like a dog with two, erm, tails after your start to the season. How much is this down to Graham Potter and how do you and your fellow Seagulls rate him?
It is lovely when so many football friends complement the way Albion are playing and I sometimes pinch myself wondering who is that playing in our kit!
Graham Potter is such a level-headed, likeable person, I only hope we can hold on to him until at least we can establish ourselves in the top flight although I still get goosebumps thinking about it! Do you remember that Chris Hughton started the ball rolling? [he totally stopped ours – Martin] Potter has moved us up a gear or three.
I was at the very last game at the Goldstone when we were bottom of Div 4, staring at relegation into non-league and we beat Doncaster Rovers, what a day. Harlow boy Jeff Wood was the assistant manager.
Do you really miss Ben White? From what I’ve seen it doesn’t look like it?
Who? Uncanny how Arsenal sign up our squad players, as in Matt Ryan last season! Ben White is class but needs a big man alongside him in my view.
But good luck to him. Nice to see how well he was greeted last Saturday at The AmEx by both fans and Albion player
I’ve always been quite an admirer of Neal Maupay but are there any other players we should look out for?
He seems to be on his own, we need another Glenn Murray to complete the attack in my view. Welbeck is class but injury prone which is such a shame.
The chap from Liverpool (Lallana) has fitted in so well.
Watch him closely, he hardly loses possession but if he does, gets straight back in, a great player.
Do you think Norwich City might survive in the PL this season? Don’t hold back, we’re used to opinions from the opposition!
Well, a yo-yo club I feel. I like your manager and good on your Board for giving him a chance to get back up there. Frankly, there are
three divisions in the Premier, and we like you, Burnley and Bolton in the past plus Fulham will always be in the mix to avoid the drop.
Albion may have a better chance of settling into the middle run like Everton and Leicester etc I hope.
And finally the inevitable. What would be your score guess?
Ten nil Albion!!!! Frankly, no idea but will not surprised if we nick a win late in the game. Hope you enjoy the day and match.
A massive expression of thanks to Mr Alan Howick from myself on behalf of MFW and I’m sure he’ll return to help us out with a preview when we face the Seagulls on their turf early next year.